This is an article I wrote for Women Writers, Women’s Books. Right now, you can pick up my e-books for 99 cents on Amazon for a limited time. Remember books make great gifts and wonderful stocking stuffers.
By way of a brief introduction, I am a multi-published, award-winning author who writes romantic suspense with a touch of paranormal. I enjoy writing fiction. The character development, their stories, and the twists and turns in the plot intrigue me. Once I let the characters loose, I can’t wait to see where they take me. I’m hooked from the first words on the paper, and I have to keep writing to see how the story ends.
I like to think of myself as proof that it’s never too late to change course and find a new avenue for your ambitions. I came to writing later in my life after working beside my husband for many years and raising our three sons. Our lives had settled into a nice, comfortable routine, until a recession, personal growth, and circumstances, brought several major changes. At that time, I scrambled to reinvent myself and an old desire to author a book began to surface once again. I can reassure you it’s never too late to reach for your dream and an ‘old dog’ can really learn new tricks.
Searching the web, I stumbled upon an ad for a writing class and soon began a class offered through Longridge Writing Institute called Breaking into Print. The course took me through the elements of fiction and non-fiction. I thought for sure I would write a non-fiction self-help book. What I found was that I loved writing fiction. This gal who never watched or read a mystery found herself in a genre where she had never dared to go before. It fit with my personality. The course teacher told me that my stories had legs and he recommended that I try the Novel writing class. I followed his advice.
My initial book, ‘The Harvest Club,’ took shape during the second class. The story idea was handed to me, my first day on a new job by the custodian when she told me. “You know we have a church ghost here.” My imagination went to work and the element of the paranormal seeped into my mystery and would continue through each of my books.
With that piece of information, I was off and writing, with a cast of characters in a New England town. Of course, my series had to have romance which brought in a hero as a love interest. My heroine was hired as a new secretary at a church where the young pastor was murdered, and her body was found outside of the church. She sees the ghost on her first day in town and she gets drawn into the mystery. Filled with twists and turns the story hooked me from the first line. I finished the book just to see how it would end but with no further expectations.
Mary, my teacher, in the second class had a way of encouraging me while slapping me upside my head. She could criticize my writing and have me laughing at the same time. Now that’s a real gift. I’m glad I listened to her when she encouraged me to query on the finished manuscript. She gave me the name of three publishers and had two that were interested. I chose the one that I’m still with today. I will forever be grateful to her for believing in me and prodding me along the way.
I like my publisher and have had a wonderful experience collaborating with them. My first book was published in 2014 and I’ve had twelve published since with number thirteen going is through the process now. Three of them are award finalists or winners which encouraged me to keep writing once I got brave enough to enter them into writing contests. It’s both exciting and nerve-racking when a new book releases. The same is true with allowing others to read and judge my work.
Even though my books are fantasy fiction I have a real method for why I author the stories I do. In my own strange way, I answer the question through my heroes what would happen if we were aware of what really transpired in the world we rarely see. In the process I touch upon subjects that are important to me in a hopefully entertaining way. Topics like organ trafficking, human trafficking, and domestic violence to name a few.
I’m no diva when it comes to my work, I’m grateful for any recognition I get, but most of all I’m thankful for the readers who read my books and tell me what they think. I have enjoyed meeting people and talking to them in person and through social media. I love to discuss with readers the why’s of my stories at local book clubs or book shows.
I have more to learn about my craft and about marketing, but when all is said and done, writing has allowed me to find another way to be who I am. I lose myself in the story and I find myself there too. Small pieces of myself and who I’m still becoming spill out through the words on the page, or as I like to think of it as my happy place. I’m not sure what that says about me. I invite you to read one of my Blue Cove Mysteries and see for yourself why Blue Cove is a special and unusual place.
1. Mike has a military background and is a student of American history and the Old West.
2, His debut western mystery, The Reckoning, set in South Park, Colorado in 1868, was released in 2016 by The Wild Rose Press. The sequel,
3.The Renewal, also in South Park, 1872, was released in 2018. His third western,
4. A Score To Settle, was released October 2020, also from The Wild Rose Press.
5. White Sands Gold is his latest western mystery and was just released by Wild Rose.
6. He has a coming-of-age novel, Fireflies At Dusk, set during the Civil War, and his short story, The Trade, a tale of the Yukon Gold Rush, was his first published work in 2014.
7.Mike’s written for magazines and newspapers for many years. An experienced editor, he’s taught University-level English and Journalism.
If you like to read Westerns, check out Mike’s latest book, ‘White Sands Gold’.
In a hidden cavern, a fortune in gold bars sits alongside an ancient relic.
To find her treasure-hunting brother, Lottie Durham enlists the help of an easygoing lawman who she can’t stand-at first. When a mysterious woman known only as Ma asks her to join the relic’s guardians, Lottie’s world spins. Why her, and should she take on this solemn obligation?
Twill, leader of the secretive guardians, has sworn a vow to protect the centuries-old religious relic. Regrets bedevil him and his dedication to his oath is repeatedly tested. If he breaks his promise, he’ll fail Ma, the one person he’s never wanted to let down.
Will a looming raid by a band of determined killers be the end of the guardians, the gold, and the relic?
Here’s a sample of what you’ll read in ‘White Sands Gold’.
‘Lottie lowered to the damp ground, which brought the deputy down as well. She fought the urge to look his way. She was alone in the desert wrapped in a semi-bear hug with a man she met yesterday. She eased a hand to her holster and picked the leather loop off her hammer. Probably didn’t need a gun to protect against someone who’d already saved her life, but…in case he tried something.
The deputy snugged his hat lower and shut his eyes.
“Hold on, cowboy. We can’t be sittin’ here just sleepin’. I mean…you oughta be talkin’ to me, reassurin’ me. How about it?”
He two-fingered his hat up a touch. “You seem to be able to take care of yourself fair, you should probably be reassurin’ me.” He glanced sideways at her, his face not more than a few inches away.
That same half-smile that had been so irritating somehow didn’t look so annoying anymore.”
“FAST FACTS” is a fun way to get to know some of my favorite (and some new-to-me) authors. Today, let’s get to know Author Iona Morrison! Here are Iona’s 10 fast facts:
1. I started writing later in life. I attended an online writing class through the University of Connecticut and discovered I like writing fiction.
2. The idea for my first book came from a custodian my first day on the job. She told me they had a church ghost, and my imagination took off.
3. I never read the genre I write, which is a romantic mystery with a touch of paranormal.
4. I have ten books published, with book eleven coming October 10, this year and two novellas.
5. I have seen a working bloodhound track while doing research for my books.
6. I love the process of watching a story come together from beginning to end. Especially the editing process where the story gets polished
.7. Three of my books were winners or finalists in the three award contests I entered. Each of my books have finished in the top ten in a reader’s poll.
8. Meeting and talking with the people who read my books is the best part of the job. I appreciate each of them. Marketing, on the other hand, is the hard part for me. It’s easier to author the book than market it. But I plug away at it.
9. I never know when a new idea will pop up and the next book will start. I am finishing my twelfth book now.
10. I still feel excitement when I hold one of my books in my hands. I find it hard to believe that I’ve written them. Truth is the feeling never gets old.
I’m a pantster. (I don’t know if pantster is even a word, but it describes me. I fly by the seat of my pants.) I can see in my mind all you wonderfully organized folks out their shaking your heads in dismay, and rightfully so. But may I just say in my defense I’ve been like this all my life, and it seems to work for me.
I’ve raised three boys and never lost one. Okay, there was one time in Phoenix that one of them got away from me into an elevator, but his cries soon led me to him. Every time the elevator doors opened i could hear him. I also managed to speak publicly for many years without totally embarrassing myself, and I even have a clean house with laundry folded right out of the dryer. I’ve traveled, managed an office, was a bookkeeper, (with books that balanced) and have written ten novels. Whatever you call my style it works for me.
Although, I’m impressed with and in awe of people who plan out every step of their project; those who know what they are going to create from the beginning all the way to the end; organized before they start. I’ve attempted to do the same, but oh how quickly I stray from the path. I don’t just stray, I color outside the lines, and go a completely different direction, I can’t tell you how many wonderful, amazing planners I’ve bought over the years and never used one of them past the first week. And yet, I somehow planned many social events including a major city- wide one. My claim to fame is the bright, neon sticky note.
I’m a pants-ter. Maybe I should have been a hippie because I tend go with the flow or it’s because I’m married to an old hippie. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Life can get a little chaotic at times, but hey I don’t need therapy for deviating from my lists. Yep, you’ve got it, I’m a pantster and a sticky note queen. The key is to stick them in places that make sense to me and that’s another story.
I am proof that it’s never too late to change course and find a new avenue for life. After circumstances changed in our lives during the last recession, I found myself scrambling to reinvent myself. I stumbled upon a writing class through the University of Connecticut where I lost myself in writing and found myself there too.
Even though my books are fantasy fiction I have a real method for why I write the stories I do. In my own strange way, I answer the question through my heroines what would happen if we were aware of what really is happening around us. In the process I touch upon subjects that are important to me in a hopefully entertaining way.
When I’m tempted to believe I haven’t accomplished anything I remember a few things and it brings a smile to my face. Today was a time for me to pause and reflect. I have eleven books and one novella published. Each one accomplished later in my life. All of them have finished in the top ten in the Critters Readers Poll. Key To The Past, and As The Page Turns were both finalists in the CAL Awards in 2021 and 2022 respectfully. Searching For Closure, won a Book Excellence Award, was a CAL Award Winner this year and received a Firebird Book Award. I’ve made the Amazon Best Seller List which is a short window in time.
I’m no diva when it comes to my work, I’m grateful for any recognition I get, but most of all I’m thankful for you the readers who read them and tell me what you think. I have enjoyed meeting you and talking to you in person and through social media.
I have lots of room to grow, especially in the area of commas and showing and not telling. I may have more to learn about my craft and about marketing, but when all is said and done, writing has allowed me to find another way to be who I am even after life threw me a curve.
When I was younger, I didn’t pay attention to the stories my grandparents and parents shared about family, but the older I get the more I wished I had. I’ve come to appreciate all the generations of people who came together to make me who I am. Reading this chart on Ancestral Mathematics was a great reminder.
Not only did it get me thinking about my immediate family but about those who are nameless to me. I started looking through some old photos, which I love to do. I wish I knew all the stories behind the pictures.
The conclusion that I came to was that a lot of people are part of my story. It’s a bit mind bending.
The next part gets a bit trickier with eight great-grand parents. I have photos of two and several great aunts. I’ve learned my great grandfather on my dad’s side owned a large ranch in Texas. The rest of those numbers are names only for me.
No matter how I look at it I didn’t just happen. A lot of unique individuals went into the possibility for me to exist. And just because I love old photos here are few more of family and those I love.
My mom and dad as kids.
My great grandfather, his wife and two daughters and son who is the baby. He was my dad’s father. I think you get the general idea.
Which brings me to me, my siblings, and the math goes on.
Seniors in high school and yet to meet.
You’ve got to love the magic of life. We are all connected and not as different as we like to think. In a world that often can be mean kindness matters and love wins.
I found myself walking into 2022 with nervous trepidation, feeling exhausted, and bruised, Yet at the same time, more in touch with who I am. Who would have thought that lockdowns, the loss of several friends from a virus that is relentless, and a couple of scary health issues in my family would change my ideas about what normal should look like? It changed everything.
I’m amazed by the strength of human resolve in fighting the battle to live. I know a few people waging that war right now, and I’m inspired by their courage. They remind me of the fragile, precious gifts of living, loving, and being loved. And that life is more about how we treat others than having the most possessions. Our real legacy is leaving our world a better place because of how we lived. Be kind to others, life’s battles are often tough.
Life is short even when it’s long. And though we often pay more attention to the externals it is the internals of the heart that we memorialize. People are remembered most for those qualities that are seen beneath the surface only visible in how they walk among us. It is those qualities that invite us to honor and applaud a life well lived.
I’ve chosen to slow down, breathe in the wonder, and not let my love for someone go unsaid. In an often angry, but grieving world, I want to practice kindness, gratitude, and listening. And I also want to learn to savor life’s little surprises when they come my way.
“Step with care and great tact and remember that life’s a great balancing act.”~*~ Dr. Seuss ~*~
My year ended with a memorial service for a couple who died from Covid two weeks apart. It seemed befitting in some ways that they died so close together. You couldn’t say one of their names without saying the other in the same sentence. I’m sad to say that the new year has started off the same way with the loss of two special people who share their own space in my heart. I feel richer for knowing them even if for the moment I must grieve their loss.
There is a strange tension that pervades human life. On the one hand, we are encouraged to open our lives to people and to love and be loved but on the other hand with that openness comes great loss and a deep void when they are gone. It makes for some happy and sad times in life. Times when we must ask questions and be reminded again of what is important and what’s not.
The older I get the more I understand how fragile life is. Every day is a gift to be lived with all the gratefulness we have. Some days are harder than others, but it’s nice to know that love is always present and to be loved is one of the greatest gifts. Love brings hope with it; hope that though weeping may endure for a season that joy will come again.
From the beginning of our life to the end so many people, moments, and circumstances come together to help make us who we are. All the things we have experienced are woven into who we are and are becoming. We can’t go back, we can only move forward one day at a time, one step at a time. Hope is what propels us forward and keeps us from giving up.
In the end, hope has helped me to see that though my heart is broken at the moment I will continue to dance even if it’s with a limp in honor of their lives.
I love this time of year. What’s not to like about Christmas lights, festive decorations, and family gatherings? Several of the ornaments on my tree have many memories attached to them. Some of my favorites were made by kids and grandkids. A few were made by my sister who is no longer living, and others belonged to my mother and grandmother and were passed down to me. I love the memories that come to mind when I bring out the boxes and hang each one on the tree.
After the past couple of years, this year has me cherishing these memories more than ever. I lost two friends recently to Covid which came as a stark reminder of how fragile life can be. I’ve made a choice this holiday season to pause and enjoy those memories as they come even if they come with tears.
This Santa music box was a gift from my sister. Every time I see this little guy, it gives me hope that love always wins in the end. We shared a room growing up that literally had a line drawn down the center of it. The only free area was a path to the door and the closet that we shared. She couldn’t come on my side and visa-versa. Doing dishes every night was a test of my parent’s patience. We fought over everything. I don’t remember how it happened, but at some point, we became best friends. We talked each day though she lived in Missouri, and I live in Colorado. Love can truly break down the walls we build, and now I miss her every day.
I think this statement by Bianca Sparacino sums life up well. “You will hurt, and you will be hurt. However, you will also love, and you will be loved in the most magnificent ways. To live life is to understand that together these extremes thrive within us.”
Life can be hard, and messy, but equally amazing and wonderful. At times it is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, but I’m grateful for each day that I get. Though life has led me down many different paths, some full of light and happiness, and some dark and sad, I haven’t forgot those who I have loved along the way. Their place is etched in my memories and their footprints are in my heart.
Every day is a gift. Loss and separation are not easy. This quote by W. S. Merwin has given words to very real emotions. “Your absence has gone through me, like thread through a needle. Everything I do is stitched with its color.”
“It is in the shelter of each other that people live.” Irish Proverb. Wishing you each a joyous Holiday Season filled with moments to savor and a very Happy New Year.